Anyone who is working from home with children knows there are many moments when work and family life collide. At times like those, either work is at a standstill or someone's feelings get hurt if you offer distraction options to your little ones who just want mommy's attention.
If you're constantly interrupted by your children because they're bored or are bickering or hungry or thirsty or Fill In The Blank, you have a number of options to reduce the stress of Stop and Go work.
Here are a few ideas besides daycare or in-home child care because those may not always be an option.
1. Create a schedule for fun. Draw a colorful poster with a list of entertainment options. Make a game out of letting your kids know what time it is next. "It's Art Time! Yay!" and have the art supplies at the ready. Set a timer at hour intervals with instructions that your kids are to keep busy until the bell goes off. Mix it up each day. You'd be surprised how much your kids want to have structure and goals. And you get about an hour of work time uninterrupted. Until the bell rings. Quick! Make those work calls!
2. Put easy snacks within reach. You'd be amazed at how much kids love a sense of independence. Put juice boxes, sippy cups of water, crackers and fruit in the bottom cupboard in the kitchen so even the littlest ones can help themselves during the day. Unwrap the juice box straws if they don't have the hang of those to avoid frustration. Yes, you might be cleaning up some crumbs or a little spill now and then, but you'll be amazed at how you can cut down on the "Mommy, I'm hungry" refrain by letting them help themselves.
3. Put them to work. Most home offices are relatively kid-safe (make sure yours is) and "office work" can be fun to a child. For the younger ones, just getting to draw on some of Mommy's printer paper can seem special and make them feel included. Simple tasks such as sticking labels on packaging, stamping envelopes with return address stamps, sealing envelopes with a small damp sponge, even sorting pens can keep little ones busy while giving you some quiet time to focus on your work at hand.
We have to admit that we've used a DVD or a pre-chosen TV show like something on PBS Kids via Netflix (Aliza's preference since she doesn't get television at her place) to have some guaranteed work time. And then there's the iPod, iPhone or iPad with educational games. Check out the adorable musical learning apps from Juno Baby or the app created by Aliza's company called Girls Can Be Anything Paperdolls for parent-approved, kid-friendly digital entertainment.
While your kids are little, they're bound to get underfoot and keep your brain jumping from Businesswoman to Mommy Mode and back. But trust us when we say "It will get easier." Soon, they'll be off to school - even if just for half a day - and suddenly you'll have more time to get things done. Now to keep you mind on your work and off of things like that pile of laundry that needs washing!
How do you manage that work/home life juggle during business hours?